How to Evaluate an Affiliate Program
©2004-2005 Sanjay Johari
There are thousands of affiliate programs offering wide range of benefits to their affiliates. However, many of these programs and the claims they make are not to be trusted. Good affiliate programs provide tremendous earning opportunities, but they need to be evaluated to distinguish them from doubtful ones. There are several factors to consider before someone decides to join any affiliate program.
Products: Organizations which operate affiliate programs generally have some products to sell. These products can be in form of physical products, e-products or services. It is important to ascertain that the organization has some products to sell and that it recruits affiliates to help them in running their business. One should be very careful with any organization that has recruitment of affiliates as their main business. It is best to avoid such organizations because their affiliate structure is like a house of cards which can crumble at slightest impact.
The organizations which have products to sell and market them thru affiliate programs cut down on the cost of advertising and distribution. This amounts to considerable savings which they share with their affiliates. If a new affiliate is already familiar with the products, this can be helpful but this is not a necessary pre-condition to join affiliate program. New affiliates can learn about the products quite fast.
Organization’s Track Record : It is not difficult to find out about the organization before joining it affiliate program. Search engines are one of the sources which can be used for this purpose. Verifying the testimonials presented by the organization is another source of information. The organization should have proven track record of operating their programs for several years successfully. If the organization is new or just starting, the person starting the program should be well known with good credibility. This is precaution against joining organizations which promise get-rich-quick scheme and then disappear.
Support Available to Affiliates : Most of the new affiliates joining any affiliate program are new to the field of marketing on the internet. They need guidance and support for promoting their business and earning money for themselves. It is in the interest of the organization to help their affiliates to succeed. These organizations are in their business for considerable longer time than the affiliates, are more knowledgeable about their market and about the ways of promoting their products. They are in best position to provide their affiliates with proper guidance. Many organizations have excellent support system by way of trainings, tutorials, articles, books, marketing plans, marketing tools, forums just to name a few. These are generally available from websites accessible to the affiliates.
Apart form the promotional material and information available from the website, personal guidance can be vital. A new affiliate may not be familiar with all the resources available and will look for mentoring at least in initial stages. It should be remembered by the affiliate that her success will add to the success of the organization, the organization is obliged to help her.
Payment : Another factor to consider is the mode and frequency of payment to the affiliates. The affiliate should make sure that this suits her. Just to give an example – many organizations make payments thru PayPal, but PayPal does not transmit money to all the countries. Such details should be checked before putting time and effort for any affiliate program.
Affiliate Structure : There are many different ways in which organizations build up their affiliate structure. Many organizations have single tier structure in which affiliate is only paid commission for sale. Other affiliate structures are 2-level or multi-level deep in which the affiliate earns also from the efforts of personally sponsored members. In turn, the affiliate is expected to help her sponsored members to earn for themselves. This is one great feature of multi-level marketing leading to leveraged earning. You can read my article on leveraged earning at this URL :
There are still more variations in the structure. Some organizations allow a limited number of affiliates directly under each affiliate. There is no “ideal” affiliate structure. But it is important to have clarity in the structure and the affiliate should understand the structure.
Compensation Plan : There is lot of variation in compensation plans starting from simple commission to more elaborate plan in which affiliates additionally earn thru the efforts of their sponsored downline members and also from a common pool. I personally favor plans which have provision for leveraged earnings where teamwork really counts. Residual earning is another attractive feature of affiliate marketing which can build into sizeable income over a period of time. I am not against any compensation plan so long as it is understandable and appears reasonable. You have perhaps noticed that I have put this factor as the last consideration. However it is an important consideration after all other considerations are found acceptable.
Persistence Pays – It takes time to build up business with any affiliate program, no matter how good the program appears. After joining any affiliate program after thorough evaluation, one needs to stay with the program giving it time to build the earning. Get-rich-quick scheme do work some times but they are rare exception rather than the rule and cannot be depended upon.
This small slogan should be ingrained in the thinking when someone joins an affiliate program:
Sanjay Johari regularly contributes articles on small business to various ezines. Benefit from International Success Mentoring! Earn while you learn – join the longest running internet business opportunity, because it works.